County Executive Ike Leggett announced that he will send legislation to the County Council on May 15 that would transfer the major functions of County economic development and business promotion to a private-sector-led, non-profit entity.
Under the proposed legislation, both the County’s Department of Economic Development (DED) and the non-profit Montgomery Business Development Corporation (MBDC), a non-profit funded by the County to assist with business marketing, would be folded into a new 501-C-3 non-profit corporation. That corporation would be directed by an 11-member board chosen from the private sector and appointed by the County Executive and confirmed by the County Council.
The new corporation would be funded by the County and have responsibility for business attraction and retention, marketing and fostering entrepreneurship.
“This is an important decision that I believe is in the long-term best interests of Montgomery County’s economic health and competitiveness,” said County Executive Ike Leggett, who was joined in Rockville by business leaders supporting the bold move.
“I believe that Montgomery County is highly competitive – but we need to be even more competitive. This structural change is part of a bigger move to better respond to the fast-changing economic dynamics and will greatly enhance private sector leadership in economic development as our local economy transitions from one driven largely by federally-spending to one that is increasingly driven by the market.”
“This new reorganization will improve ‘Team Montgomery’s’ ability to move us forward by making our economic development efforts more nimble, more flexible, and more entrepreneurial.
“I appreciate all that our current Department of Economic Development has been able to do. Now it is time to change with changing conditions and take our efforts to the next level.”
Leggett said he hoped that the County Council could complete work on the legislation before their August recess.
“MCCC supports the County Executive’s commitment to establish a focused, government-funded, business-led economic development effort because it will strengthen our Economic Ecosystem,” said Georgette Godwin, president and CEO of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. “It is an economic imperative for Montgomery County to attract new businesses and grow existing businesses in order to be regionally, nationally and globally competitive. When businesses grow, jobs are created, goods and services are bought and tax revenues are generated to support our public schools, public safety, transportation and services.”
“On behalf of the County Executive's Business Advisory Group, we are most appreciative that Ike listened to the concerns from the business community about the transformation underway in our region's economy and the need for a strong public-private partnership to meet that challenge,” said Bob Buchanan, Chair of the Business Advisory Group. “This proposed economic development organization addresses our concern and will lead to Montgomery County being an even stronger asset for our region.”
“I am supporting the creation of a new private economic development organization because I hope it will make our County’s efforts to attract jobs and investment more nimble and creative,” said Council President George Leventhal.
“This new approach to economic development demonstrates the County’s commitment not only to innovation but also to its strong partnership with the private sector,” said Council Vice President Nancy Floreen, who chairs the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee. “I look forward to terrific new initiatives to bring jobs to Montgomery County.”